Define terms associated with business meetings

Terms and Phrases used in Meetings

Ad hoc:from Latin, meaning ‘for the purpose of’, as for example, when a sub-committee is set up specially to organise a works outing.

Adjourn: to hold a meeting over until a later date.

Adopt minutes: minutes are ‘adopted’ when accepted by members and signed up by the chairman.

Advisory: providing advice or suggestion, not taking action

Agenda: a schedule of items drawn up for discussion at a meeting

AGM: Annual General Meeting: all members are usually eligible to attend

Apologies: excuses given in advance for inability to attend a meeting

Articles of Association: rules required by Company law which govern a company’s activities

Attendance list: in some committees a list is passed round to be signed as a record of attendance

Bye-laws: rules regulating an organisation’s activities

Casting vote: by convention, some committee chairmen may use a ‘casting vote’ to reach a decision, if votes are equally divided

Chairman: leader or person given authority to conduct a meeting

Chairman’s Agenda: based upon the committee agenda, but containing explanatory notes

Collective Responsibility: a convention by which all committee members agree to abide by a majority decision

Committee: a group of people usually elected or appointed who meet to conduct agreed business and report to a senior body

Consensus: agreement by general consent, no formal vote being taken

Constitution: set of rules governing activities of voluntary bodies

Convene: to call a meeting

Decision: resolution minutes are sometimes called ‘decision minutes’

Eject: remove someone (by force if necessary) from a meeting

Executive: having the power to act upon taken decisions

Extraordinary Meeting: a meeting called for all members to discuss a serious issue affecting all is called an Extraordinary General Meeting; otherwise a non-routine meeting called for a specific purpose

Ex officio: given powers or rights by reason of office

Guillotine: cut short a debate – usually in Parliament

Honorary post: a duty performed without payment, e.g. Honorary Secretary

Information, Point of : the drawing of attention in a meeting to a relevant item of fact

Intra vires: within the power of the committee or meeting to discuss, carry out

Lie on the table: leave item to be considered instead at the next meeting (see table)

Lobbying: a practice of seeking members’ support before a meeting

Minutes: the written record of a meeting; resolution minutes record only decision reached, while narrative minutes provide a record of the decision-making process

Motion: the name given to a ‘proposal’ when it is being discussed at a meeting

Mover: one who speaks on behalf of a motion

Nem con: from Latin, literally, ‘no one speaking against’

Opposer: one who speaks against a motion

Order, point of: the drawing of attention to a breach of rules or procedures

Other business: either items left over from a previous meeting, or items discussed after the main business of a meeting

Point of order: proceedings may be interrupted on a ‘point of order’ if procedures or rules are not being kept to in a meeting

Proposal: the name given to a submitted item for discussion (usually written) before a meeting takes place

Proxy: literally ‘on behalf of another person’ – proxy vote

Quorum: the number of people needed to be in attendance for a meeting to be legitimate and so commence

Refer back: to pass an item back for further consideration

Resolution: the name given to a ‘motion’ which has been passed or carried; used after the decision has been reached

Seconder: one who supports the ‘proposer’ of a motion or proposal by ‘seconding’ it

Secretary: committee official responsible for the internal and external administration of a committee

Secret ballot: a system of voting in secret

Shelve: to drop a motion which has no support

Sine die: from Latin, literally, ‘without a day’, that is to say indefinitely, e.g. ‘adjourned sine die’.

Standing Committee: a committee which has an indefinite term of office

Standing Orders: rules of procedure governing public sector meetings

Table: to introduce a paper or schedule for noting

Taken as read: to save time, it is assumed the members have already read the minutes

Treasurer: committee official responsible for its financial records and transactions

Ultra vires: beyond the authority of the meeting to consider

Unanimous: all being in favour

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